FTC and Machinima reach settlement: it’s actually about ethics in game journalism

ftc machinima settle deceptive marketing complaint
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has reached a settlement with YouTube network Machinima over allegations that the company contracted popular YouTubers to create paid advertisements under the guise of unbiased, independently produced video content.

The settlement follows up on an FTC complaint issued earlier today, alleging that Machinima did not adequately disclose that its members were paid to produce pro-Microsoft content in the months leading up to the launch of the Xbox One console.

According to the FTC, Machinima directed chosen partners to produce content explicitly stating their dedication to the Xbox family of consoles and their enthusiasm for the Xbox One launch title Ryse: Son of Rome, in particular. Machinima partners enrolled in the campaign were ordered to produce videos containing “two to three talking points detailing what you like about [Ryse]” while “showcas[ing] Microsoft in positive light,” among other marketing-focused requirements.

The FTC cited two popular YouTubers who agreed to the deal. Adam “SkyVSGaming / SkyDoesMinecraft” Dahlberg was allegedly paid $15,000 to produce videos showcasing Ryse and the Xbox One in a positive light, while Tom “TheSyndicateProject” Cassell was paid $30,000 for similar content.

“Cassell’s videos appear to be independently produced and give the impression that they reflect his personal views,” the FTC’s complaint reads. “Nowhere in the videos or in the videos’ descriptions did Cassell disclose that [Machinima] paid him to create and upload them.”

“In truth and in fact, the video reviews for Xbox One and the Launch Titles did not reflect the independent opinions of impartial video game enthusiasts,” the FTC’s report continued. The organization additionally notes that “The failure to disclose [paid endorsements], in light of the representations made, was, and is, a deceptive practice.”

As part of its settlement terms with the FTC, Machinima agrees to “clearly and prominently disclose a material connection, if one exists, between the Endorser and the advertiser whose product is being endorsed.”

The FTC adds: “Under the proposed settlement, Machinima is prohibited from similar deceptive conduct in the future, and the company is required to ensure its influencers clearly disclose when they have been compensated in exchange for their endorsements.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Computing

Check out this video of a functional PC that’s encased in pasta

A YouTuber filmed himself building and testing a PC in which the computer's hardware was encased in pasta. The result was a computer with a chassis made out of uncooked pasta and hot glue and painted to resemble lasagna.
Music

YouTube Red is now YouTube Premium. What's changed, and should you subscribe?

Thanks to Google, YouTube Red is now YouTube Premium. We explain what exactly a YouTube Premium subscription gets you, how much it costs, and break down if it's a good choice for you.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Samsung Galaxy Fold woes, zombie pigs, and more

Today's topics: Samsung Galaxy Fold, Facebook A.I. voice assistants, YouTube comes to Fire TV, facial recognition on airline flights, the SpaceX DART program, Yale's zombie pigs, and much more!
Home Theater

Amazon and Google agree to more support for each other’s streaming services

Amazon and Google have taken a major step toward thawing their relationship: YouTube will be officially supported on all Fire TV devices, and Prime Video will work on all Chromecast and Android TV devices in the coming months.
Gaming

Tired of the same PS4 annual releases? Try one of these indie games instead

While big budget games rely on practical innovation, indie games dive head first into new, unexplored territories. If the quirky and unusual appeal to you, take a look at our list of the best indie games on PS4.
Gaming

Joker in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is freezing some Nintendo Switch units

There have been reports that Joker in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is causing Nintendo Switch units to freeze. Even with the glitch, players may still try him out, amid rumors that Persona 5 will soon arrive to the console.
Gaming

This list of PlayStation 4 exclusives puts its competitors to shame

The PlayStation 4's game library and incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

These Xbox One exclusives are the definition of quality over quantity

Xbox One has a prestigious collection of handpicked titles that you can't play on other consoles. Here are the latest and greatest Xbox One exclusives, including some that are also available on PC
Gaming

Get over here and learn the proper way to deal a Fatal blow in Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat 11 introduces the Fatal Blow system, which gives players with low health the chance to shift a fight back in their favor. Here is how to perform a Fatal Blow, and how to defend against one.
Gaming

25 awesome indie games you should definitely be playing right now

These days, some of the best video games are made by independent studios. Here are 25 of the best indie games, whether you prefer grueling dungeon crawlers or otherworldly, meditative adventures.
Gaming

Retailer may have leaked The Last of Us Part 2 release date

A Slovakian retailer published a listing for The Last of Us Part 2, including a potential 2019 release date and box art. This leak comes shortly after an announcement that filming for the lead actors is complete.
Gaming

These awesome free-to-play games might be even better than the ones you paid for

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially popular League of Legends.